Carr #5614

Robert Carr (1614-1684)

Born in England.  Arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in May 1635 and subsequently settled in Rhode Island by 1638 and

Elizabeth Lawton (1623-1718)

Born in England and settled in Rhode Island by about 1648 (probably earlier).

Carr #5614


English and Scotish Origins of my Carr/Kerr ancestors:

WARNING:  More work needs to be done on the English origins of the Carr family lines in America.  I have included information on the English/Scottish Carr/Kerr families because of its intrinsic interest, but of course I have approached this from the American angle, since I am likely descended from two separate English Carr lines that started in New England and Virginia in the early 17th century.  The connections that I have presented are tentative, and further investigation is needed to explain the connections (if indeed any can be proven).   I have confidence that I have identified the English immigrant ancestors – first to arrive on these shores.  However, the English origins are murky, as is often the case with these old colonial families.  In general, English sources are strong when it comes to prominent families (or rather first-borns of prominent families), but weak when it comes to “second sons” and lower classes.  Of course, most of those who migrated to America were of humble origins or the “second sons” of prominent families (especially true in Virginia).  Unfortunately, the search for “aristocratic” connections has resulted in unfounded speculations over the years in American family histories, and these need to be constantly challenged, since fanciful accounts have often crept into the published record.

The history of the English-speaking family of the Carrs and Kerrs is as old as the Norman Conquest of England.  One of the followers of William the Conqueror, taken from a roll in “Battle Abbey,” bears the name of “Karre.”  The early posterity of this Norman soldier settled in the north of England, and succeeding generations spread on both sides of the borderland of England and Scotland, and afterward into northern Ireland.  The name has passed through many changes and variations and is found in the old documents spelled Carre, Carr, Car, Karre, Karr, Kar, Kerre, Kerr, Ker.

The Kerrs who became notable in the borderlands of Scotland were the descendants of two brothers, Ralph and Robert Ker of Ker Hall in Lancashire, England.  They were living in Roxburgshire in 1340.  Ralph and Robert obtained their landsfrom King David II of Scotland.  Robert was given the lands of Oultoburn.  Ralph founded the family of Ferniehirst[1] (of which we are descended).  A fierce rivalry developed between the two clans during the age of James IV, Margaret Tudor and James V.

The difficulty of tracing the early families of Carrs in England centuries back , in a definite and concise manner, is exceedingly perplexing and necessarily speculative at times.  Direct lines can be traced through various peerage books of England and Scotland to Andrew Kerr I, the 6th Baron of Ferniehirst, Scotland. He was born in 1450, created Baron in 1480 and knighted in 1483.  He and his son Andrew II, 7th Baron of Ferniehirst, were remarkable men for talent and undaunted courage, conspicious in reigns of James IV and James V. Andrew Kerr II, died in 1543.  His son Sir John Kerr, 8th Baron of Ferniehirst, did great service against the English and rescued Queen Mary from incursions by the English against the Scots.   Sir Thomas Kerr, 9th Baron and son of Sir John Kerr, was also devoted to Queen Mary’s interests. (Quoted from Watson’s House of Carr)[2].

I am descended from both:

  • Sir Thomas Carr (1655-1724), who emigrated from England to Virginia in 1685.  He is the 2nd great grandson of John Kerr, 8th Baron of FerniehirstHe is discussed under his own heading.
  • Robert Carr (1614-1684) who emigrated from England to Massachusetts in about 1635 and subsequently settled in Rhode Island.  He is the great grandson of John Kerr, 8th Baron of Ferniehirst.  He is discussed here.

Sir Thomas Carr and Robert Carr are 2nd cousins 1x removed, related to each other through John Kerr, 8th Baron of Ferniehurst (1500- ) as follows:



9th Baron of Ferniehirst Thomas Kerr was born 1529 in Roxburghshire, Scotland, and died Mar 1586 in London, England.  He married (1st) Janet Kirkcaldy and married (2nd) Lady Janet Scott, who was born 1555 in Buccleuch, Ettrick, Selkirkshire, Scotland and died in Northumberland, England.  She is the granddaughter of Sir Walter Scott[3] of Brauxholm & Beccleuch.  He was the hero of the battle of Pinkie 1547 and a prolific and popular writer of his time.  Ironically, Sir Walter Scott was killed in a feud with Clan Kerr in 1552 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The son of Thomas Kerr and Janet Kirkcaldy is William Carr, born about 1542 at Ferniehirst Castle, Scotland.  The date of his death in not known with certainty, but it may be 1589, according to some sources.  According to one source, William took his mother’s maiden name to continue the Kirkcaldy line, but his children reverted to Carr when their father failed to inherit the Grange property.  William Carr married Mary Ann Clifford, whose date of birth is unknown and who died in 1573 according to some sources.

The children of William Carr married Mary Ann Clifford are listed as follows:

  1. Benjamin Carr, born 18 Aug 1592 and and died 1635 in London, England.  On 2 Sep 1613 he married Martha Hardington (1593-1635).
  2. William, born 17 Jun 1597 in London and died 4 Jun 1672 in Bristol, Rhode Island.  On 16 May 1619 in London, he married Susan Rothchild, born in Devonshire, England 30 Apr 1598.  They are known to have migrated to New England.  Edson Carr in his 1894 family history[4], recounts a touching tale, purportedly transcribed from Susan’s diary, telling of how they travelled 48 days through wilderness in 1622 with an Indian guide and constructed a log cabin on the site where Bristol, Rhode Island was afterward built.  According to the story, they arrived in Boston on the Fortune 1621.  The story goes on to relate how William and Susan reunited with William’s brother George, who was carpenter on the Mayflower in 1620.  Most of the details seem to be fabricated, but the story has been published repeatedly in subsequent years.  According to the extant records, William and Susan were not passengers on the Fortune, and there is no record of a George Carr (see below) on the Mayflower.  The date of William and Susan’s emigration to New England is not known, but it must have been prior to 1635, when the two sons of William’s brother, Benjamin (both minors), were sent to America after the death of the parents to live with their uncle.
  3. George Carr, born 1599 in London and died 1682 in Salisbury, Massachusetts.  As mentioned above, Edson Carr’s 1894 family history popularized the notion that George was the ship’s carpenter on the Mayflower.  He does not appear on any passenger list, and neither does his wife, Lucinda Davenport, who reportedly accompanied him to Plymouth.  Most likely the truth of this persistent family tradition will never be known.  The Mayflower likely carried a crew of about 25 or 30.  Unfortunately, there was no list of the names of the crewmembers recorded, so only a few names are actually known through compemporary accounts[5].
  4. James Carr (1601–1681).  Of this brother, Edson Carr, in the work cited above, has only this to say: “He ran away from home when a boy and went to sea, and afterward became a sea captain.  He was drowned while on a voyage from the West Indies to Boston. It is presumed that he had no family.”

The children of Benjamin Carr and Martha Hardington are listed as follows:

  1. Robert Carr, born 4 Oct 1614 in London, England and died 1684 in Newport, Rhode Island. In 1638 at Newport, he married Elizabeth Lawton, born 1623 in England and died 1718 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
  2. Caleb, born 9 Dec 1616 and died 1695.  At an early age he became active in public affairs in Newport.  In May 1695 he was elected Governor of Rhode Island, but his service was cut short by his death 17 Dec 1695
  3. Richard, born 5 Jan 1621 and died 1689.
  4. Andrew, born 5 Dec 1622 and died 1623.

Robert came to America with his brother Caleb, on the ship Elizabeth & Ann[6], which sailed from London 9 May 1635. From an old shipping record in London, we find the following:

Calebb Carr, aged 19; and Robert Carr, aged 21, described as a “tayler” sailed for New England, on the 9th of May, 1635, in the Elizabeth Ann.

These two brothers, who were both minors, were sent to America after the death of their parents, to live with their uncle William, who had previously settled in Bristol, Rhode Island.  A few years later the two brothers settled in Newport, Rhode Island. Robert Carr was admitted as an inhabitant in Portsmouth, Rhode Island 21 Feb 1639 and a freeman in Newport, Rhode Island 16 Mar 1641.  He was one of the original purchasers of the island of Conanicut (now known as Jamestown) in Narragansett Bay from the Indians, which contained property in Newport.

Much of the information I have of Robert and Caleb is taken from The Carr Book[7] by Arthur A, Carr (1947).

memorial marker to William Coddington, Coddington Cemetery, 34 Farewell Street, Newport, Rhode Island (photo credit: Sarnold17, 22 Jul 2011)

Memorial marker to William Coddington, Coddington Cemetery, 34 Farewell Street, Newport, Rhode Island (photo credit: Sarnold17, 22 Jul 2011)

Both Robert and Caleb were close associates of William Coddington who came from Boston, Lincolnshire, England as one of the original members of the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1629 and was a leading merchant in Boston, Massachusetts during this period.  Early in 1637, a group of people led by William Coddington left Boston because of religious differences with the Puritan leadership there.  They went to Providence, Rhode Island and conferred with Roger Williams[8] as to settling in those parts.  With the active aid of Roger Williams, the group purchased from the Indians the large island of Aquidnick and immediately founded the town of Pacassit (later called Portsmouth).  In 1639, William Coddington and a small group of leading men removed to the south end of the island to lay out a new settlement, Newport.

Robert embraced the religion of the Religious Society of Friends and was known as a Quaker.

Robert Carr executed his will 20 April 1681, while preparing for a voyage between New Jersey and New York.  His wife was still living, and he provided her with household stuff and twenty pounds yearly.  The will however does not cite her name, although many researchers have concluded she is Elizabeth Lawton[9].

Robert gave his son Caleb land at Conanicut where he grazed his sheep and requested that son Caleb give another ten pounds to his mother annually.  The sheep were given to daughter Margaret, along with the money from the “horseflesh” once sold.  He provided a sum for his grandchildren by daughter Mary, who had married John Hicks[10].  He left his house and the wharf leading to it and the lands adjoining it to son Robert, who also was to pay his mother seven pounds yearly.  His son-in-law James Brown and daughter Elizabeth had already been provided with land next to the dwelling property, plus all that they had built upon and fenced.  Robert’s son Esek received the property next to Robert’s.

Robert Carr died some time between the writing of his will in April and 4 Oct 1681 when John Williams and Henry Dyre[11] appeared before council to declare that they had seen the deceased sign his will while he was still in perfect health and memory.

The daughter of Robert Carr and Elizabeth Lawton is Mary Carr, born in Newport, Rhode Island and died at Leicester, Massachusetts in 1757.  Some sources claim that Mary was born in 1652, but it seems unlikely (but not impossible) that she lived to be 105 years old.  She married Ralph Earle, born about 1660 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island and died at Leicester, Massachusetts , also in 1757.  The lineage of Ralph Earle and Mary Carr continues under the heading of Ralph Earle (1606-1678).

[1] Ferniehirst Castle was built around 1470 to hold the gate for Scotland and to serve as a base for military raids and cattle-lifting forays. It commands the road to Otterburn and Newcastle. Ferniehirst Castle consists of an extended and altered towerhouse, which incorporates the cellars from the 16th century castle, with larger wings and extentions. A large conical-roofed stairturret is corbelled out above the first floor level, and bartizans, with shot-holes crowning the top of the tower.The original entrance leads to a stair known as the ‘Left-Handed Staircase’, the story being that when Sir Andrew Kerr, who was himself left-handed, returned from Flodden in 1513 he had his followers trained to use their weapons with their left hands. This is said to be the origin of ‘Corrie-fisted’ or ‘Kerr handed’. The basement is vaulted, and the hall has a 16th-century fireplace. Ferniehirst was a property of the Kerrs and first built by Sir Thomas Kerr in 1476 on the remains of an earlier foundation, but was sacked by the English in 1523. It was recaptured with French help in 1549, and the leader of the English garrison was beheaded. Sir Thomas Kerr, protector of Mary, Queen of Scots invaded England in 1570, hoping to have her released, but all that resulted was an raid on Scotland, during which Ferniehirst was damaged. James VI destroyed the castle in 1593 because of help given by the family to the Earl of Bothwell. The castle was rebuilt about 1598. As late as 1767 the house was occupied and used by the Lord Lothian of that day but even then it was showing signs of delapidation. Between 1934 and 1984 it was leased by the Scottish Youth Hostel Association, except for during World War II when it served as an army billet. The castle was subsequently purchased for a residence and restored.

[2] Watson, Walter L. The House of Carr: A Historical Sketch of the Carr Family from 1450 to 1926. Providence: John F. Green Printing Co, 1926.

[3] Sir Walter Scott, 1st of Branxholme, 3rd of Buccleuch (Abt 1495–1552), known as “Wicked Wat”, was a nobleman of the Scottish Borders and the chief of Clan Scott who briefly served as Warden of the Middle March.  He was an “inveterate English hater” active in the wars known as The Rough Wooing and a noted Border reiver (raider). His great-grandson was Sir Walter Scott, 1st Lord Scott of Buccleuch, the “Bold Buccleuch” (1565–1611), a border reiver famed for his role in the rescue of Kinmont Willie Armstrong.  I have not figured out the connection, if any, with Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet (1771–1832), the Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world during his time.

[4] Carr, Edson I. The Carr Family Records Embacing [Sic] the Record of the First Families Who Settled in America and Their Descendants, with Many Branches Who Came to This Country at a Later Date. Rockton, Ill : Herald Print. House, 1894.

[5] Known crew members (not necessarily on the passenger lists) are: MASTER: Christopher Jones; MASTER’S MATE: John Clark; MASTER’S MATE:  Robert Coppin; SHIP SURGEON: Giles Heale; SHIP’S COOPER: John Alden (my 10th g-grandfather). These crewmembers are the only ones that can be conclusively identified.  There are a couple of “mystery men” that were likely to have been crewmembers.  The first is a “Master Leaver”, mentioned on one occasion in the Pilgrims’ journal Mourt’s Relation.  There is a Thomas Lever listed just a few names before Robert Coppin on the list of Virginia Company investors made in 1609.  In another place in Mourt’s Relation, mention is made of a “Master Williamson”, and a “Master Williamson” is mentioned in the 1621 will of William Mullins as well.  Some have suggested this might be a pseudonym for William Brewster, who was still a fugitive from English authorities.  Others have suggested that perhaps Master Williamson was a member of the Mayflower’s crew. The Pilgrims also hired a couple of seaman for themselves, to stay in New England for a year: William Trevore, Mr. Ely, and perhaps Richard Gardinar.

[6] Several of my ancestors and their families arrived on this ship: Alexander and Elizabeth Baker (my maternal 9th g-grandparents), their daughter Elizabeth (my maternal 8th g-grandmother) and her sister Christian, Thomas Lord (my  maternal and paternal 10th g-grandfather), Anna Lord (my paternal 9th g-grandmother), Dorothy Lord (my maternal 9th g-grandmother), Robert Carr (my paternal 10th g-grandfather), Robert’s brother Caleb (my 10th g-grand uncle) and John Borden (my 11th g-grand uncle), the younger brother of Richard Borden (my paternal 10th g-grandfather). These individuals and their families are discussed under their our headings.

[7] The Carr Book: Sketches of the Lives of Many of the Descendants of Robert and Caleb Carr, Whose Arrival on this Continent in 1635 Began the American Story of Our Family by Arthur A. Carr (Ticonderoga, New York, published by the author and printed by The Tuttle Publishing Co., Inc., Edwin F. Sharp, Lessee, Rutland, Vermont) 1947.

[8] My 10th g-grandfather, discussed at length under his own heading.

[9] Some sources suggest that the Elizabeth Lawton, who was the wife of Robert Carr, is the daughter of George Lawton and Elizabeth Hazard, but in that case none of the dates make sense, since Elizabeth Hazard’s supposed date of birth in 1630 (reasonable given that her father’s date of birth is 1610) is too late for her to be the mother of a woman who had her first child about 1650. I am of the opinion that Robert’s wife was more likely the daughter of George Lawton (George’s father) and Isabel Smith.

[10] John Hicks is Mary’s second husband.  I am a descendant of Mary Carr and Ralph Earle.

[11] He is probably the son of William Dyer and Mary (Barret) Dyer, who was hanged for her religious beliefs on Boston Common in 1660 (my 9th g-grandmother), discussed at length under their own heading.


One comment

  • lee lindquist

    I too am related to George Carr 8thh Ggrandfather and looking at this Mayflower issue and I also am a Carpenter /Boat builder I understand the Dynamics of how things work on the docks when hiring people of that type. Undependable and when a job is needed and the crew doesn’t show. you hire the guy on the dock. I feel this or something like this would have happened. He was there and the ships carpenter didn’t want to do that type of haul when he normally hauls bulk. George was talented and a person of prominence, By 1633, a person with his parentage and personal history and talent wasn’t just given an Island and a responsibility to build boats and a ferry’s business etc. I feel he was the carpenter on the Mayflower, John Alden was too young (22)and a lack of carpentry experience to do that job all alone or without an expert. A copper could help a carpenter but not the tasks of pitching and caulking all the while constantly beefing up the mast supports and watching the bilge pumps. Too many unreported other things missed on other manifests that are missing important people. Like if he wasn’t on the mayflower what boat has him listed on a manifest? None.

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